Attending Medical Fair in China: Interview with Markus Wild
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After long flight from Frankfurt to Shanghai WILDDESIGN Founder and CEO, Markus Wild, arrived to rainy Shanghai to visit our Chinese branch, say hello to new employees but last but not least to participate and present our agency medical design profile at China Medical Equipment Fair that took place in National Exhibition and Convention Center last weekend (15 – 18 May). Before he left we asked him a few question about his thoughts on this event and medical device market in general.
Markus, what are your first impressions after China Medical Equipment Fair?
First of all it was a really large event. WILDDESIGN went to many medical fairs before like e.g. Medica in Dusseldorf but it was our first time at this kind of medical fair in China. Of course we knew that Chinese medical market is growing at a very high rate, but we didn’t expect so many visitors! According to organizers the fair was visited by nearly 90 thousand people in four days. Most of them were Chinese, some came from distant provinces but we talked also a lot of international exhibitors and visitors. I was glad to see so many exhibitors from Germany.
Actually the CMEF reminded me a little bit of old style trade fairs like we had in Europe back in 90s, when this kind of fairs served more like a big product exchange market between buyers and sellers. Now big fairs act more as experts’ forum and exchange of opinions. Of course the business development still remains the core of these international meeting but the purchasing rush was far more noticeable here in Shanghai than in Dusseldorf.
What do you think about Chinese companies who came to the fair?
Well, the companies present at CMEF were highly diversified both in the size and expertise. What I can say for sure is that Chinese companies are professionalizing fast. We’ve already seen some big brands at German fairs and their products are up to CFDA, FDA or CE requirements.
WILDDESIGN is a design agency with a strong focus and more than twenty years of experience in medical design. Did you find anything particular about Chinese manufacturers’ attitude towards medical design? Are they interested in investing in design at all?
Yes, many visitors were attracted by the appearance of our products and bright and attractive design of our booth so apparently they appreciate good design. But the perception of design in the medical field by Chinese companies varies somehow from the European.
Chinese producers see design as a nice outer appearance, an indispensable factor to add value to the product and also as a mean to differentiate their product from the others. German companies that WILDDESIGN is collaborating with are aware that design is about being innovation oriented, about functionality and usability. Design is not perceived solely and merely as the first aspect of a product but as something inseparably integrated into its function and user experience.
In this case Chinese manufactures are sometimes looking for an easy way and perceive the design as a rather surficial factor. But in general the level of Chinese medical design is rising – we could even see by the number of our competitors and theirs’ remarkable booths.
Many international exhibitors, including German, attended CMEF this year. Did the country of origin play important role for the potential clients?
Germany’s image in China is associated with high quality, innovation and perceived as a high value. There were many German companies present, many joint booths like e.g. WILDDESIGN and our long-term partner BYTEC. But personally I think perhaps this German heritage should stay more in the background as it can be perceived as unapproachable and intimidating, something that gives a feeling “maybe it’s not suitable for me?” to Chinese potential clients like start-ups or smaller companies.
Can you give some advice to German, or in general Western, companies willing to visit this CMEF next year?
Chinese speaking staff is indispensable! Sorry, but even with the nicest booth and eye-catching products, you won’t likely be able to establish many business relations if you don’t speak Chinese. The majority of the visitors are Chinese and few of them speak English therefore I highly recommend to take your Chinese speaking staff or hire a translator and prepare materials also in Mandarin.
Focus on making your booth more approachable, interactive and even playful because it’s appealing for Chinese audience. Try to explain the purpose and the function of your product – we’ve experienced that our Chinese visitors were really curious about this and eager to learn.
Are you planning to come back for CMEF next year?
Thank you for your time Markus and hope to see you soon in Shanghai.